Same shit different day

In qualitative research we look to find broad patterns among a group of participants. In my research I have been looking for patterns in relation to lone mothers on welfare. I interviewed a variety of women from vastly different social contexts. I spoke to women identifying as Pakeha, Māori, one or more Pacific…

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“It’s just bullshit”: Welfare Discourse and the Special Needs Grant

It is troubling that when Work and Income caseworkers have met welfare recipients who are working hard but struggling financially to raise children on a benefit, they still manage to arrive at opinions about their character. I’ve listened to the same stories of hardship told to staff at Work and…

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Fear and loathing

Since the shootings at the Ashburton Work and Income office, there has been a lot of talk about the need for additional security for Work and Income staff. Anxiety about staff safety in the aftermath of the shootings led to MSD increasing security guards from an average of one per office to up to three.…

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It’s just not a normal waiting room

In this blog I’ve written a lot about the everyday interactions in the Work and Income offices. These interactions generally aren’t pleasant. But it’s not just the one-on-one interactions with staff that impact beneficiaries. Framing these interactions is the physical environment at Work and Income. Participants in my research repeatedly…

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Why are we running around for these people?

I am very critical of Work and Income in this blog. While I’m unapologetic about my criticism of the organisation, sometimes I feel that caseworkers disproportionately bear the brunt of disparaging comments that should be more appropriately directed towards their employer. While case managers are the face of Work and…

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Neoliberal New Zealand: no place for the poor

A few weeks ago a reader commented on my Facebook page: “where within the practice of neoliberalism is there room for caring for the poor?” The unfortunate answer is there is no space in neoliberalism for consideration for others. This is a depressing thought when we realise that neoliberalism is…

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Welfare abatement: they want to keep you down

One of the biggest contradictions within our current welfare system is its insistence that beneficiaries find paid work, while simultaneously enforcing policy that disincentivises the supplementation of welfare payments with part-time employment. Although beneficiaries are allowed to earn money while on a benefit, additional income affects their supplementary assistance and the…

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